MKs call for leaving Seder seat open for Pollard

MKs hold mock seder ending with a toast to Pollard and a reading of a prayer for the Israel agent's welfare.

Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - March 23, 2013

Knesset members from all nine Zionist factions in the Knesset gathered together Sunday for a model Seder in which they called upon Jews in Israel and the United States to leave an empty seat at their Passover Seders for Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

The MKs sat around a table at Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel's Jerusalem office with one seat bearing only a picture of Pollard. A similar gimmick was used for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit during efforts to bring him home from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip.

"Having every Zionist faction in the Knesset here sends a powerful message to President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that they should not give up their efforts to persuade US President Barack Obama to free Pollard," said Bayit Yehudi faction head Ayelet Shaked, who heads the Free Pollard caucus in the new Knesset.

In a reference to Pharoah in the Passover story, Shaked added: "I hope American Jews will see the unity inside Israel and do the maximum to pressure their president not to harden his heart."

Just days after US president Barack Obama's visit to Israel that was deemed successful, coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) slammed him for not accepting repeated requests from Peres to commute Pollard's sentence to the more than 27 years he has served.

"Our brother Jonathan should have been here a long time ago," Levin said. "The cruelty to Pollard goes against the democratic values America was built on.

Shas faction chairman Avraham Michaeli revealed that his party's mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, had sent a message to Obama ahead of his visit, urging him to bring Pollard with him to Israel.

MKs on the Left were equally insistent that Obama made a mistake by not freeing Pollard before he came.

"It would have been fitting if Obama concluded his visit by returning Pollard and allowing him to return to his people in time for Passover," Labor MK Nachman Shai said. "It was really unfortunate that this did not happen."

Meretz MK Ilan Gilon added that although he respected the American justice system, it was clear to him that Pollard had already paid enough of a price for his crime. In a strange statement from a secular MK on the far Left, Gilon said: "I pray that we will soon see Pollard here, healthy and in one piece."

The mock seder ended with the MKs toasting Pollard's health and Ariel reading a prayer for the Israeli agent's welfare that was written by former chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.

"Pollard's exodus will come," United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler said. "If not now, then, please God, next year in Jerusalem."

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